Increased blood lipid levels
Elevated or high blood lipid levels are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases such as coronary artery disease and heart attacks. Increased blood lipid levels are favored by a high-fat and meat-rich diet, excessive alcohol consumption, smoking, lack of exercise, obesity and diseases such as diabetes mellitus or hypothyroidism. In some cases, hereditary predispositions can be responsible for high blood lipid levels.
High blood lipid levels - definition
High blood fat values describe concentrations of certain lipids (fats) in the blood which are above the following values in healthy middle-aged adults:
- Total cholesterol 200 mg / dl (milligrams per deciliter)
- LDL cholesterol below 130 mg / dl
- HDL cholesterol over 40 mg / dl men, over 50 mg / dl (1.3 mmol / l) in women
- Triglycerides over 200 mg / dl
- Very low density lipoprotein (VLDL) over 30 mg / dl
If the total cholesterol value increases the LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol and triglyceride values, this is also referred to in the professional world as hyperlipidemia or hyperlipoproteinemia. However, the limit values mentioned may vary depending on age, or with increasing age a higher limit value is considered tolerable.
Cholesterol and triglycerides in particular are mentioned in connection with unhealthy blood lipids, whereby they are harmless as long as their concentration is in the normal range. Then they fulfill vital functions in the body. Cholesterol is an important component of the cell wall and is a precursor to hormones such as sex hormone, vitamin D and bile acids.
Triglycerides are also known as neutral fats and make up the majority of dietary fats. They form the depot fat, which acts as an important source of energy, “cushions” the organs such as the kidneys and has an insulating effect, so that the body is protected from the cold.
Above all, just like tryglycerides, LDL cholesterol, colloquially referred to as "bad cholesterol", should be kept in the normal range, since an increased concentration of this blood fat can lead to arteriosclerosis ("hardening of the arteries") and other cardiovascular diseases. In contrast, HDL cholesterol (“good cholesterol”) should be kept as high as possible, for example, through a healthy diet and exercise.
Symptom increased blood lipid levels
Elevated blood lipid levels do not cause discomfort over a long period of time. Often high cholesterol and triglycid levels are found accidentally during a blood test done for a different reason, like a general health check. In some cases, the diagnosis is only made when diseases such as arteriosclerosis as a result of increased blood lipid levels have already progressed far.
Atherosclerosis, colloquially known as “arterial calcification”, is a systemic disease of the arteries (arteries), in which deposits occur on the inside of the vessels, in which the blood is transported away from the heart. This gradually reduces the artery diameter until the affected area is finally completely closed.
Smallest injuries on the inner wall of the vessel presumably result in the body's immune system triggering complicated biochemical processes and blood fats, blood cells, connective tissue and lime being deposited as so-called plaques. The deposits particularly affect areas of the vascular system where the vessels branch and the uniform flow of blood is disturbed. As a result, coronary artery disease, heart attacks, a stroke, angina pectoris, renal insufficiency and circulatory disorders can occur.
Furthermore, increased blood lipid levels can lead to increased capsule tension due to excessive fat storage in the organs, especially the liver (fatty liver) and spleen. The connection between the formation of gallstones and high cholesterol is also known.
Gallstones result from an imbalance in the solution ratios of the components of cholesterol, bilirubin and calcium contained in the bile, when they crystallize and form so-called concrements. In this way, the gallbladder is filled more and more until it blocks it, the bile duct or sometimes the execution duct of the pancreas. The causes include above all an excess supply of cholesterol through unhealthy food, but also a reduced breakdown of cholesterol in the body and an insufficient intake of bile acids in the small intestine.
Gallstones are usually noticeable through biliary colic, where sufferers suffer from severe abdominal pain. Accompanying nausea and vomiting, sweating and fever can occur.
Highly elevated trigycerides can also be noticed by attacks of building pain, which in some cases are accompanied by itchy skin changes. Cholsterin deposits can also appear on the skin due to so-called cutaneous xanthomas, mostly on the eyelids and below the eyes. Cholesterol can also be deposited in the tendons. The Achilles tendon and the extensor tendons are usually affected.
The risk factors for increased blood lipid levels include a high-fat and meat-rich diet, lack of exercise, overweight, smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. Furthermore, hereditary predispositions and other diseases such as diabetes mellitus, hypothyroidism, familial hypercholesterolemia and familial hyperchylomicronemia can lead to increased blood lipid levels.
A blood test is used to diagnose high blood lipid levels. When the patient is fasting, blood is drawn, which is then examined for total cholesterol, LDL and HDL cholesterol, trigyceride and in some cases other values.
The total cholesterol content can only give a first indication of a possible disruption or derailment of the fat metabolism. The decisive factor is above all the concentration of LDL and trigycerides, which have a damaging effect on the vascular system. In contrast, an increased content of HDL choleserin ("good cholesterol") has a positive effect.
Therapy for increased blood lipid levels
Increased blood fat levels can usually be prevented by a healthy and low-fat diet such as with Mediterranean food and sufficient exercise. Once the cholesterol and trigyceride levels are increased, blood lipids can be reduced by about ten to fifteen percent through diet and exercise. If this is not enough, medication can be used to lower the blood fat concentration in the blood. The intake of statins (HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors) leads to the inhibition of the own production of cholesterol and also supports the absorption of LDL cholesterol in the body cells.
As a result, the cholesterol level drops. Anion exchangers also lower the concentration of cholesterol in the blood by binding bile acids in the intestine and promoting an increased conversion of cholesterol into bile acids. Fibrates and nicotinic acid derivatives can be used to lower triglyceride levels. Machine blood washing outside the body may also be necessary in severe cases.
Naturopathy, holistic medicine and home remedies
Increased blood fat levels are mostly primarily due to unhealthy and high-fat food. If you want to get a handle on cholesterol and triglycids in a natural way, you should therefore check your eating habits and rely on foods with a blood lipid-lowering effect. Because ginger, garlic and many other spices as well as fruits and vegetables have a positive effect on high blood lipid levels.
As early as 2011, researchers from Florida State University published a study in which they demonstrated that patients could lower their LDL cholesterol levels by up to 23 percent by eating an apple (75 grams) daily in the form of dried apple slices for half a year ate. This means that apples can keep up with medication to lower cholesterol. Pectins that bind bile acids are responsible for the blood lipid-lowering effect of apples. As a result, the liver has to form new bile acids, which are necessary for burning fat. To do this, it uses the cholesterol in the body so that the cholesterol concentration in the blood drops.
Ginger is also used in naturopathy for high blood lipid levels. According to scientific studies (see sources below), its gingerols are said to lower blood lipid levels. As little as two grams of ginger a day can have a positive effect on cholesterol levels.
Garlic is also considered a "miracle cure" in naturopathy. The active ingredient alliin, which is contained in garlic, inhibits important enzymes in cholesterol synthesis. Wild garlic native to this country is said to have even stronger effects on increased blood lipid levels.
Legumes such as peas are also suitable for a cholesterol-conscious diet. They contain so-called saponins, which on the one hand bind cholesterol molecules into insoluble complexes so that they do not get into the bloodstream. On the other hand, they also bind bile acids to themselves, so that the liver has to produce new bile acids and has to make use of the existing cholesterol. As a result, the level of cholesterol in the blood drops. Chickpeas contain the highest saponin content.
Vegetable oils from wheat germ, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame and soy contain many phytosterols, which also have a cholesterol-lowering effect, as scientific studies have shown. Olive oil also lowers LDL cholesterol.
Other foods that have a positive influence on blood lipid levels are green tea or semi-fermented oolong tea, which, due to their tannins and saponins, presumably inhibit the absorption of nutritional fats. The psyllium in psyllium affects the amount and composition of the bile and thereby also reduces the cholesterol level in the blood. In addition, nuts are said to have a blood lipid-lowering effect, which is mainly due to their unsaturated fatty acids. Bitter chocolate with a cocoa content of 85 percent also has a beneficial effect on fat metabolism. Their high proportion of polyphenols influences the HDL value in the blood, in which the "good cholesterol" is increased. (ag, fp)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
Dipl. Geogr Astrid Goldmayer
- German Society for Cardiology - Cardiovascular Research (DGK): Diagnostics and Therapy and Dyslipidemia, Börm Bruckmeier Verlag GmbH, 2016, dgk.org
- Sheau C. Chai, Shirin Hooshmand, Raz L. Saadat, Mark E. Payton, Kenneth Brummel-Smith, Bahram H. Arjmandi: Daily Apple versus Dried Plum: Impact on Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors in Postmenopausal Women; in: Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Diabetics, Volume 112, Issue 8, pages 1158-1168, August 2012, jandonline.org
- Fatma A. Eissa, Hani Choudhry, Wesam H. Abdulaal, Othman A. Baothman, Mustafa Zeyadi, Said S. Moselhy, Mazin A. Zamzami: Possible hypocholesterolemic Effect of Ginger and Rosemary-oils in rats; African Journal of Traditional Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Volume 14, Issue 4, pages 188-200, 2017, PubMed
- Yu Wang, Hongxia Yu, Xiulei Zhang, Qiyan Feng, Xiaoyan Guo, Shuguang Li, Rong Li, Dan Chu, Yunbo Ma: Evaluation of daily ginger consumption for the prevention of chronic diseases in adults: A cross-sectional study; in: Nutrition; Volume 36, pages 79-84, April 2017, sciencedirect.com
- Andreas Schäffler, Cornelius Bollheimer, Roland Büttner, Christiane Girlich, Charalampos Aslanidis, Wolfgang Dietmaier, Margarita Bala, Viktoria Guralnik, Thomas Karrasch, Sylvia Schneider: lipid metabolism; in: Functional diagnostics in endocrinology, diabetology and metabolism, page 31-37, Springer, 2018, springer.com
- Hessah Mohammed Al-Muzafar, Kamal Adel Amin: Efficacy of functional foods mixture in improving hypercholesterolemia, inflammatory and endothelial dysfunction biomarkers-induced by high cholesterol diet; in: Lipids in Health and Disease, Volume 16, Article number 194, 2017, lipidworld.biomedcentral.com